Shrieking Violet

From sketch book to picture book, and all the bits in between: the story behind the illustrations for Shrieking Violet


My books always begin with a soft pencil and a sketch book. Because I have lots of ideas popping into my head, I need to get them down really quickly. Because of this, some of my first sketches are pretty basic, but they are a great help in planning out the contents of the final illustrations.

Here you can see how I started to map out the composition of this double-page spread.


To add colour and pattern to the characters' clothes, I used some of my daughters' artwork from their preschool days. This is a collage by my younger daughter, using fabric, paper, tissue and metallic stickers. I scanned the collage and used it for one of Violet's dresses.

And this wax crayon rubbing was perfect for Violet's other dress.


To depict the sounds coming from Violet's mouth, I also used sections of my daughters' paintings from preschool. The different marks here had been made by printing with the edge of a piece of card, splattering paint onto the paper and by varying the way the paintbrush was held. These images were great for expressing Violet's changing moods – especially her tantrums!

The final stage of the illustrative process was adding the last of the colour with acrylic paints (I didn’t leave all of the painting to my daughters!). This is Violet’s sisters’ meltdown moment, and she is expressing herself in green.